Perry County Almshouse

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Perry County Almshouse
Opened 1810
Demolished No
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building,
Location Tyrone Township, PA
Alternate Names
  • Cumberland County Poor-House
  • Perry County Poor-House
  • Perry County Home

The Perry County Almshouse has its roots back to April 12, 1810 when the director of the Cumberland County house of employment purchased 112 acres of land from Adam Bernheisel for a county Poor Farm. In 1820 Perry county was created and the Cumberland County poor-house, falling this new county, became the Perry county poor-house. The paupers of Cumberland County however remained at this location until about 1826, with the first being transferred to Cumberland County on April 14, 1824.

The original brick residence built in 1806 on the property was used as the stewards dwelling. In 1839 a fire destroyed the 1810 structure and a new one was erected by Samuel Shuman which was in use until 1871 when a new building was erected. The 1839 building was two stories tall with a basement. In the basement was contained the kitchen, washroom, ironing room, and dining room with separate table for women and men. The first story was for women and consisted of 9 rooms, including a clothes room, nursery for children, and what was called a "dead-room", The second story was occupied by men, though at times women also lived on this story, as according to the 1871 report of Commissioners of Public Charities three women were living on the second story at the time of their visit on August 30th. The building was warmed through a stove and supplied with water forced from a spring. According to the previously mentioned 1871 report "The building is old, and very much out of repair".

At thee time of the 1870 visit there was also a third building on the property called the "mad-house", which was one story high and twenty by twenty five feet. The building had eight cells for the insane with windows for light and wooden slat doors.

As of 1870 the total population of the Almshouse was 60 with about an even split male and female. The steward salary was $500 and one man was paid by the steward to attend to the farm on property to assist the "inmates". A doctor attended to the almshouse twice a week or when necessary. Plans for a new structure were in the words an in 1871 a new building was erected.

The 1871 structure was a four story brick structure 112 by 48 feet with a central projection of 62 feet in depth. Upon its completion the 1839 structure was taken down. The building contains 72 rooms in all. The basement, which is above ground, contains the kitchen, wash rooms, launderies, baker's room, and store rooms. The basement also contained four Boynter's heaters which warmed the rest of the building. Water is pumped into a tank contained on the fourth story.

In the second story contained the sleeping rooms, directors room, offices, and store rooms for the steward. This is located in the central part of the story, while the wings are occupied by the paupers who can care for themselves, separated male and female. Each wing has its own dining room and water closet. The third floor was for the infirm and insane paupers. The insane were chained to the floor to prevent window escape however it appears by 1880 a one story brick building, which at the time of the 1873 visit was being used for vagrants, had been modified for the more violent insane to prevent the danger of keeping them on upper stories.

The first steward after it becamse jurisdiction of Perry County was George Hackett and the first in the present structure was J.B. Trostle.